Tasmania: apple cider, friendship, and frustrations (persistence)

Day 3,144 since October 10th 2013: 196 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic! 

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).


Ready to fight, always ready to fight


The fight or flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to fight or flee.

Last week’s entry: Australia: children, beer, Dr Seuss, Bass Strait crossing, Tassie, more beer, royalty, and kindness

As last weeks entry didn’t turn out as positive as I had hoped, I will try to remedy it within this one. Because while I’m sitting here at a Starbucks in Melbourne, writing you with lots of pain in my neck from a poor night’s rest, I can look back at a good week. It did not start out all that well though. The objective has for a while been to reach New Zealand without flying as country no. 197. On May 6th NZ Customs informed that I could enter NZ as a passenger onboard a container ship. And on the same day our friends at ZIM Shipping informed that Gold Star Line was looking forward to welcoming me onboard the good ship Toronto Trader departing Melbourne on May 22nd. So, it was beginning to look good. But then on May 10th NZ Immigration informed that I WOULD NOT be able to enter NZ on a container ship at this time due to COVID-19 regulations. And on May 12th I was furthermore informed that the owners of Toronto Trader COULD NOT accommodate me after all, due to internal matters. What followed on my part was a strong sense of frustration. Why must it be so difficult!! The Saga is more than four years overdue! There are so few countries left. Why, why, why! Should I give up? Should I? Along with the feeling of doubt I was met with a feeling of anger. I work so hard for this project! I offer so much of myself! Should I quit and return to a regular 9-5?


Frustration, doubt, anger...

Are such emotions even useful or simply a waste of energy: frustration, doubt, anger? I thought about that and came to the conclusion that these feelings were necessary for what came next: ingenuity. My mind quickly switches into problem solving mode. That is something I have learned about myself. And now it was fully fueled! Which options were potentially on the table? Could I have my new passport sent from NZ to Australia? How long would that take? Could it be beneficial to leave NZ for later? Afterall, once done with the Pacific Ocean we would logistically need to bridge the way to the Indian Ocean – would it be easier to reach the Indian Ocean from NZ than from Fiji? Could our friends at Swire Shipping get me on a ship from Australia to Fiji? How soon? How soon would Samoa open its borders? Could something be done in relation to Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and Tonga which are currently also closed? My mind was racing ahead looking for “open doors”. For many years my setting has been set to “fight mode”. Thinking further down the line, how will it be to transition into a “normal life” when I return home, after so many years of this?


On May 13th I received an update from Toronto Traders owners which read: “in this case the owners have made an exception to allow this individual to sail with the vessel”. And on May 17th I received an email from NZ Immigration confirming that the information from NZ Customs was correct and that I would be permitted to enter NZ as a passenger onboard a container ship. None of this came to be by coincidence. A lot of work went into getting these reversals and clarifications. And once again I can proudly say: “I get by with a little help from my friends”. The network I hold today surpasses my wildest imagination compared to when I left home. People are just people. And if you can reach the right people then anything is possible. The hard part, of course, is reaching the right people in the right situations.


Dreamfarm Village

I’ll tell you about some lovely people. The first two are Isabella (Denmark) and Damien (Australia). They live at Dreamfarm in Huon Valley, not far from Hobart. Dreamfarm is home to a community and also functions as a retreat for creative minds and souls. My plan was to depart Melbourne on Monday (May 9th) and return Friday (May 13th) after a short visit to Tassie. Isabella (@isabella.berg.olsen on IG) reached out and convinced me to stay longer. She sold it really well arguing that I needed more time to see the remarkable nature and offering free accomodation at Dreamfarm in peaceful surroundings. So I changed my return ticket with Spirit of Tasmania to return Wednesday (May 18th). Isabella and Damien have traveled a lot together. And prior to moving into Dreamfarm they lived at a commune in Denmark, and as such Damien speaks Danish! Well done, Damien! Not an easy language to learn. Isabella is really nice and mothered me throughout my entire stay, in spite of being more than a decade younger than me. They both have a healthy interest in flora, fauna, and hiking. As such, one day the three of us set out to hike up to Lake Skinner which lies just across the border of the vast South West National Park. Tassie is for the most part nature and a large part of it is completely untouched.


Damien sanitizing his footwear before entering South West National Park. I've never seen that before. But good idea! Apparently it helps to prevent the spread of e.g. fungi.


Isabella in red and Damien in black.


I thought I'd try a classical "influencer pose". Check out my Salomon X Ultra 04 atop Lake Skinner. Fun fact: I left home in 2013 wearing a pair of X Ultra's :)


The trail was nothing short of wonderful. Dense forest in the beginning and open towards the end. The water tasted amazing!


There's always room for a pie. In Australia a pie is not sweet like in the USA. Pies are more lunch-like. E.g.: a meat pie. But they come in thousands of varieties.

During the hike it was raining lightly and later on it became windy as well, which aren’t optimal conditions. Tassie was cold enough already. I’m fully aware that I originate from a “cold country” and "should be used to it", but I have long ago acclimatized to tropical conditions and find 9 degrees Celsius (48F) to be cold. However, out on the hike it was no issue - and I felt happy! That is generally the effect nature and exercise have on me. And I was in good company too. Damien would tell me that Tassie is twice the size of Denmark. However, being a proud Danish, Dane from Denmark I had to correct him as it’s closer to 1.5 times the size. That still makes Tassie a really large island, although you wouldn’t think it seeing Tassie next to the Australian continent. If Tassie was a country then it would rank in size as the worlds 120th largest ahead of Sri Lanka.


Such good people!! Right side: Hanni, Tom, and Damien. Left side: Nico, Helena, me. We went to Salty Dog Hotel to hear Elisse play flute during a performance. I've never before heard anyone play flute so well. It helped elevate the music.

The community life at Dreamfarm was really nice and very interesting. The "farm" consists of two main buildings which look rather Austrian to my eye. They are nearly off grid somewhat up a dirt road and I had no telephone signal. Wifi and electricity was available. Water was drawn from the nearby Judds Creek which is surrounded by nature. Heat was provided by firewood and I was for the most part struggling to keep warm. Apart from Isabella and Damien, I met Alex, Elisse, Amber, Nico, Helena, Tom, and Hanni. As everyone keeps busy, a week can easily pass by without everyone seeing each other. Therefore, once a week, they all meet up, sit down in a circle, and pass "talking sticks" around while individually giving a brief update on what’s going on in their lives. I had the pleasure on sitting in on such a session and everyone began their sentence with: “I feel…”


Testing apple cider at Willie Smith's.


Say hello to Stuart (@worldmotoadventure on IG). We met in West Timor back in 2019 as he had launched his motorcycle adventure from Australia to England!! Needless to say the pandemic put that on pause. Stuart happened to be cruising about on Tassie while I was there so we met up again! Great guy! Looking forward to crossing paths again.

Damien works as an electrician and Isabella works at a café. But in Huon Valley there is also seasonal unskilled work picking apples. Tasmania is apart from “Tassie” also known as “the apple isle” and one night we all went out to Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. A really cool bar/restaurant with live music within an old wooden barn. Apple Cider was the primary beverage and came in several forms. I had the pleasure of trying the tasting paddle with four different ciders. Good stuff. The Dreamfarm community consisted of some really interesting and likable people. Alex strives towards having a one-day work week. And Nico once traveled for four years!! I don’t know that I have even met anyone who traveled for four years before? That is almost like coming across a unicorn.


Jam session at Dreamfarm.

After five nights at the Dreamfarm I said farewell and Alex gave me a ride back into Hobart, which is Tassie’s largest city by population. The entire island only has about 500,000 beating hearts. I’ve heard several people say that Tassie is the kind of place which people visit and then afterwards talk about moving to – but they never do. That has however changed in recent years as the population is now growing fast. As such I also noticed a lot of vehicles in crowded places...and a lot of roadkill in general. I got the sense that people had it pretty good during the pandemic with lots of freedom although the tourism sector would have been hit badly. I actually haven’t met many people from Tassie. Everyone at the community (apart from Isabella) came from mainland Australia. And that continued to be the theme relating to most people I met across the island. Hobart is pretty nice but it never managed to catch my interest. The history is however interesting dating back to the time of whalers and Antarctic exploration. Some historical buildings and neighborhoods have been preserved and a city by the ocean is always nice. I just personally like Launceston so I returned there for my remaining days. But not before making a stop at the famous Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).


Battery Point in Hobart. 

Mona has its own ferries which run to and from Hobart city center and the museum. The trip takes about 25 minutes and can also be done by bus. However, the ferry ride offers a much more interesting arrival and some great scenery. At the ferry terminal I met Robin who works for the museum. We struck up a conversation and before I knew of it, I had received a complimentary ticket!? I wasn’t even fishing for one but Robin liked my story and wanted to support the Saga. It is hard to hide my story if I stay honest in a conversation. All it takes are a few questions to make people suspicious: “are you here as a tourist?” or “when did you fly in?”. I really liked Robin who told me to talk to Steve when I reached Mona. The catamaran ferry took off and was elaborately decorated. Artistically painted, blasting out trendy music, serviced with several bars, and fitted with a real size plastic cow and some sheep which people could sit on. We headed along the beautiful coastline and came past Nyrstar Hobart which is a zinc smelter that delivers zinc metal to the world. It looked like something which is poisoning the world – but I’m sure that they are living up to strict code being in Australia and all. Besides – I suppose the world needs zinc.


Nyrstar Hobart - zinc smelter. Pretty steam punk to look at!

Mona was something else!!! As the ferry arrived, we climbed up a lot of stairs and arrived to a magnificent view of the surroundings. Mona is about 8km (5mi) outside of Hobart and the museum itself is mostly carved into the sandstone deep underground. As a privately owned museum it has a very interesting background story which you might want to look into. I liked it right away! At the ticket office I met Steve who looked at me, presented a big smile and said: “Thor, your reputation precedes you!” Robin had called Steve who saw “Thor” written on my jacket. In no time I was set up and followed the long winding stairwell deep into the underground. I quickly found that I had discovered a new favorite museum! Some other favorites include Vasamuseet in Sweden, Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, and M+ in Hong Kong.


"Fat Car" - 2006. By Erwin Wurm. Based on the chassis of a Porsche Carrera.


"Requiem for Vermin" - 2019. By Christopher Townend.


"Extension" - 2005. By Charles Robb.

Sometimes the building itself becomes as fascinating as the exhibits themselves. That happened to be the case at Mona. I also found the staff really kind and furthermore Mona probably has the best app I have ever experienced in connection to a museum. You could easily spend the entire day at Mona but 2-3 hours will give you a pretty good idea if you are in a hurry.


Mona Roma (catamaran) got me back to Hobart in time for my three-hour bus ride back to Launceston. Everyone I met has told me that public transportation is rubbish on Tassie and that having a car is the way to go. I found that Redline did a good job connecting Devonport, Launceston, and Hobart by bus. Somewhere in between everything else I did a COVID-19 rapid test as I was informed, I had been in close contact with someone who tested positive. I tested negative (as usual). I don’t know what it is about Launceston which speaks to me? Perhaps the size, the nature, the history, the streets, the parks, the river, the historical buildings? Who knows? But I like it there and returned to the same hostel I had stayed at before, within the charming old house from 1888. I went for a couple of runs along the river, watched a couple of movies/documentaries, replied to a lot of emails, ate well, and slept well.


Alexandra Suspension Bridge, Launceston. Momentary happiness during a morning run in nature. Healthy body - heathy mind. I believe in that.

Launceston Red Cross had invited me to visit their event: Hands Up for Humanity. The event took place to raise awareness for “50 ways to do more good”. The weather was nice and several tables had been set up at Civic Square where I got to meet Susan, Julie, Sharon, and Rita. At least those are the names I remember and I apologize to anyone else. Everyone was really nice but especially Rita left an impression. She joined the Red Cross when she was 11 years old. Rita was born back in 1938 just around the time WWII broke out. Yes! Rita is 84 years old and is still going strong. Rita (Richards) sits as chair on the Divisional Advisory Board for Tasmania at the Australian Red Cross. We spoke about many things and when I asked her how she got around Tasmania she looked at me with a questioning stare and replied: “I drive myself”. Rita was born on Tasmania and knows her family history really well. So, I can now claim to have met a Tasmanian.


Hanging out with Rita. Civic Square, Launceston.


The good ship Spirit of Tasmania I, Devonport, Tasmania.

After a few nights in Launceston, I boarded another Redline bus to Devonport and arrived in time to join Spirit of Tasmania back to Melbourne. Before boarding I had a look at the weather forecast as the Bass Strait has a reputation as one of the world’s most treacherous bodies of water. It separates Tassie from mainland Australia and although the ferry crossing is only about 450km (280mi) it can become a bumpy ride. There wouldn’t be much I could possibly do about it - but I prefer to know. The forecast indicated slightly more wind and swell than my crossing a week earlier. No problem.


The evolution of the fleet and information on the route.

Onboard I enjoyed a pizza and caught “Belfast” in the onboard cinema. A full-bodied movie from 2021 which left me with emotions and thought. Then I went to sleep in my reclined seat which led to all the pain in my neck. It was a calm(ish) crossing of the Bass Strait so I’m not sure what it could have been other than a bad sleeping position? Back in Melbourne it will be good to get some rest at the Brookes family again. The departure from Melbourne is set to be around May 22nd. And now we know more about where Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is from. A fine place indeed.




I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

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If you enjoyed this blog or find that I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga welcomes funding. Thank you :)


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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Loving Aussieland - looking forward to NZ!

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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Australia: children, beer, Dr Seuss, Bass Strait crossing, Tassie, more beer, royalty, and kindness

Day 3,137 since October 10th 2013: 196 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic! 

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

This week has been FULL. Told in pictures.


The idiom "the straw that broke the camel's back" describes the minor or routine action that causes an unpredictably large and sudden reaction, because of the cumulative effect of small actions. It alludes to the proverb "it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back".


Last week’s entry: Are influencers always meant to smile and be happy?


I am very fond of Australia. I really think Australia is an amazing country which has a lot to offer. People have been very kind to me – and very kind to each other. After the match at the MCG in Melbourne one team had lost and the other had won. Tens of thousands of people were leaving the stadium all at once and many stayed outside. The atmosphere was very enjoyable and friendly. Supporters of either team were mingling and there wasn’t any hostility to observe. I think that was very telling of Australia. I observe how people interact with each other wherever I go. In Australia there’s often a confidence combined with kindness as strangers meet. A lot of kind phrases are exchanged. There is also plenty of friendly banter and many have a good sense of humor. Yes, the many people I have met have been kind to me and to each other. The country is beautiful, has a strong economy, and it is highly developed. Both fauna and flora play large parts of the identity of this remarkable nation. And so does its history. Both the ancient history with Australia’s First Nation people, and the history which followed when European ships arrived. Yeah Australia, you’re doing good.


Now, if you will kindly let me vent for just a few lines, then I promise we will quickly move on to all the wonderful things which have happened this week. Alrighty then. I would really love to see a successful end to this project. The final seven countries with all which it involves. It is in everyones interest to see the Saga completed as swiftly as possible. If we could get back to a three-day average per country then that would be great. However, currently New Zealand is sending mixed messages. NZ Customs wrote an email highlighting that I would be able to enter New Zealand as a passenger onboard a containership, even during COVID-19. That was great news. Unfortunately, I have since received an email from a senior client service advisor at MBIE’s immigration contact centre, which states that I cannot enter New Zealand traveling as a passenger onboard a container ship, thus contradicting the email from customs. The email from customs seemed much more believable as it included information about Clause 10(1)(b)(ii) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) 2020. Yeah – I bet you didn’t know how complex the Saga in reality is? Or maybe you did. In any case, the email from MBIE seemed more like someone who didn’t really know how to deal with something they had never been asked before and found it easier to say no. My frustrations on trying to complete this historical and meaningful project are once again at a high. No amount of sleep can remove the tiredness I feel. Please 'remaining seven': open the gates. Don’t be the straw which breaks my back.


Okay, I’ll return to putting on a brave face and promoting the good and the positive. And it’s not hard to find material as you will soon discover. But as I’m really tired and in no mood to write a long and detailed entry…I will simply add a lot of photos with captions to keep you updated. Enjoy.

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I think we are going to be okay based on these little people being our future. What a great time I had spending a few hours at Abbotsford Primary School in Melbourne. Here you see me seated among the 5-8 year olds. The greatest questions often come to me from the youngest minds. Abbotsford Primary School is a bilingual school with education split between English and Chinese. Isn't that the future!

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Abbotsford Primary Schools vision is: "all students at Abbotsford Primary School will be kind local citizens and caring global thinkers".

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These little geniuses are the 9-12 year olds. I did a 40-minute session with both age groups. Good stuff. And my speaking engagement no. 122 across 60 countries. 

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I had bahn mi with Principal Stanley Wang before the sessions at Abbotsford Primary School. And then we had beer afterwards at Burnley Brewing. Afterwards Stanley was kind enough to give me a ride back to the Brookes family.

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Happy birthday Grace. Congratulations on becoming twice as old as you were last year. The birthday theme was inspired by Dr Seuss' story: "Oh, the places you'll go!" Well done Emma and Brett :)

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Okay, okay Brett!!! I'll have your halloumi/lamb burger!! :) I've known Emma and Brett since Hong Kong where they lived while I was there.

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And I had the "fairy bread" which notoriously accompanies children's birthdays in Australia. I rarely eat sugar. But at Graces birthday I had enough for a lifetime!

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While in Melbourne I've been staying with Cam and Justine Brookes, their three lovely children, and their dog. They live in the suburbs of Melbourne and one day takes the next. It has been really nice spending time with them. The race with the children during the day - and the winding down at night. Go Brooksies!!

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The BIGGEST news of this week: I've been invited to join a ship to New Zealand!! You can take a man out of Hong Kong. But I'm less sure you can take Hong Kong out of a man. I find myself missing Hong Kong more than I miss Denmark. Probably because the memories are much fresher. Well, of course it had to be a Hong Kong company which came to the rescue!! Gold Star Line was incorporated in Hong Kong back in 1958. Gold Star Line is about to enter the hall of fame of shipping companies which have assisted the Saga!! The connection was made by our friends at ZIM Integrated Shipping Services where legends like Poul Kristensen and Steve Felder work. It is an Israeli based company and a leading carrier in the industry. Thanks guys! Now we just need to solve the bureaucrazy of New Zealand and we are good to leave on May 22nd. HOWEVER, just before I finished this entry I received notice via our friends at ZIM, that the owners who on May 6th informed they were looking forward to welcoming me onboard, now regretfully inform that: "due to internal matters owners unfortunately cannot accomodate said passenger request." This means more sand will run through my hour glass.

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With the assumption that I would be leaving Australia on May 22nd I had nearly two weeks left within the country. What to do with that time? (MBIE had not yet emailed me and I had not yet received the email regarding the owners withdrawing their offer to carry me across). I could rest and relax with the Brookes family? I should probably try to rest more. But I could also go and explore either West Australia or Tasmania! Two places I had never been. Ferries leave from Melbourne to Tasmania every day and the kind staff at Spirit Of Tasmania were helpful with the tickets for the overnight ferry. Gold! Thanks you guys!! It was settled: we were heading south! 

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Spirit Of Tasmania offered a really pleasurable crossing of the Bass Strait. Meals came at a reasonable price and I even caught a movie in the cinema. It took just 12 hours to make it across.

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The jury is still out on my thoughts about Australia's public transportation system. It changes a lot from state to state. I find it to be really slow. However, it gets you to where you need to go. It's not cheap but also not unreasonably overpriced. Trains, trams, and busses have all been in good condition. Yeah, I don't know. But I do know that it got harder in Tasmania.

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Spirit of Tasmania arrived to Devonport. I asked google maps how to get to Launceston and was given an option. I had to connect at the Mercey Community Hospital near Latrobe. However, the bus to Launceston did not arrive. Apparently I had to book it the day before to make it stop at Mercey Community Hospital. And the call center didn't open until 09:00am. The next bus was at 1:00pm.

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Well, at least I got to walk about in Lantrobe which seemed nice. The people were nice too. Now I had to make my way back to Devonport to catch another bus to Launceston. Full circle.

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I finally made it to Launceston which is really lovely. Lots of heritage buildings and history. It is Tassies 2nd largest city with around 70,000 beating hearts. The city had its slow beginnings some 200 years ago and rose to prominence over time. It still shows today.

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The North Esk River meets the South Esk River in Launceston and forms the River Tamar, which flows into the ocean. Such beauty in the region.

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I ran out to Launceston's Alexander Suspension Bridge and across it. And back again. What lovely scenery for a morning run. Healthy body - healthy mind.

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Ah yes, and a tour at James Boag's brewery. Launceston's finest. 

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After a three hour bus ride I made it to Hobart. Tassies most populous city and the place where Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary, was born and raised. When she back in 2004 married His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Frederik, she effectively married into one of the oldest states in Europe and the oldest kingdom in the world.

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Hobart seemed nice enough. But I did think there was quite a bit of traffic.

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The kindness of strangers never seizes to amaze me. Isabella is Danish and has been following the Saga for many years. Isabella worked together with my sister-in-law for about six months and probably learned about the Saga through her. She offered to set me up where she lives, about an hour outside of Hobart. The nature is pristine!! Isabella lives together with a bunch of people and manages the household together with them. Everyone is super sweet. Isabella's partner picked me up in Hobart and drove me to where they live. We drove through the dark and saw a great deal of animals on the way such as wallabies, pademelon's, and a quoll! I only knew of one of those three. But Isabella's partner (Damien) seemed really excited about the quoll. I don't know how long I will be staying. Perhaps over the weekend. Both Isabella and Damien are really kind and hold very interesting stories. There is much kindness to be found in the world.

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It's really cold. Not for most people who are accustomed to it. But I'm not accustomed to it!! I'm nearly freezing all the time. It has largely been like that since I came to Melbourne. Tasmania is even colder. I'm not acclimatizing well to it. I feel cold, frustrated, tired. And I definitely need some wind in my sails. No more straw on my back.




I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop


If you enjoyed this blog or find that I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga welcomes funding. Thank you :)


 Patreon Picture2MobilePay


Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - the load is so heavy. So heavy.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

 Once Upon A Saga logo small

Once Upon A Saga

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Are influencers always meant to smile and be happy?

Day 3,130 since October 10th 2013: 196 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic! 

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

Australia is great and the Saga is complicated

panoA very common question I get is: “could you see yourself settling down in any of the countries you’ve visited?” And the answer is yes. I have often come across such countries and Australia is another one. However, that is not what we are here for. There are seven left. Let’s go!

Last week’s entry: Somehow ultra-wifey survived Australia! Now let’s go.

The past seven days have been something. So has the past many years. “How are you Thor?” The answer isn’t simple. On one hand worn down by a many year-old struggle against bureaucrazy, high level logistics, and many, many impressions. On the other hand, praised and supported by a lot of people and often surrounded by friends. I thought the final countries would be much easier simply based on synergy and global support. I mean; who wouldn’t want to see this project come to a successful end at this point? Well, the struggle continues. And I thought I’d start this entry with a very contemporary example of what kind of decisions I need to make.


Our friends at Swire Shipping are supporting actively. They have a ship which departs Melbourne (where I’m at) in 36 hours. I can join this ship to Vanuatu, which is one of the remaining seven. Vanuatu is relatively near three of the other countries but timewise far from New Zealand. New Zealand is relatively close to Australia. It would take about three days to reach New Zealand and perhaps two weeks to reach Vanuatu as there are several port calls on the way. Last month I applied for a new passport at the Danish Consulate in Sydney and requested it sent to New Zealand thinking I would be there by now. It is now in New Zealand and I am not. Everything is set up for me to go to New Zealand: Red Cross, media, contacts, visa, new passport… Nothing is set up related to Vanuatu. But if we did reach Vanuatu next then it would make sense visiting Tuvalu, Samoa, and Tonga next. Samoa still keeps its borders closed though. So does Tonga, Tuvalu, and even Vanuatu for that matter. But let’s say we worked our way around it and reached Vanuatu. Being in that region we would still need to come back down to New Zealand eventually. So timewise the most optimal solution is New Zealand first, and then the small Southern Pacific Islands. There are plenty of ships which head to New Zealand from Australia. Swire offers the service but the ship they are using is not theirs. Therefore, they need to ask the owners for permission which makes it harder for me to join the ship. There’s a company called ANL which operates under CMA CGM, and they have ships making the passage. However, they do not know Once Upon A Saga and relations need to be built up from the bottom which is often hard.


It was so nice to see Brett (Melbourne), Emma (Perth), and their lovely daughter Grace again. We became friends in Hong Kong but have relocated back to Australia. They've been a huge support. I like how they aim for a more sustainable lifestyle trying not to buy new items, and grow their own vegetables and spices. And checkout little Grace looking up towards the stars :)

The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much alive in the world. In Australia it is hardly felt and life seems quite normal in most cases. But shipping companies are still adhering to strict COVID-19 precautions and regulations. In some cases, such as with our friends at Maersk, they do not accept any nonessential personnel onboard – no exceptions! In other cases, such as with PIL or Swire there are COVID-19 protocols in place which make it possible. That is how we reached Palau and Australia this year. MSC is also a friend of the Saga and has helped out several times. They have a service which left Brisbane a few days ago to go to New Zealand. That’s also a possibility but they have requested that I seek confirmation which supports that no New Zealand authorities, such as immigration or customs, will deny my entry and cause delays to the cargo operation. That is very reasonable. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to have it confirmed. It generally seems like I would be able to enter New Zealand as a passenger (not crew) on a container ship. However, New Zealand Immigration has proved ridiculously hard to reach. No email addresses, no straightforward way to reach them on social media, and phone numbers with long waiting times (45min or more). I asked people on Facebook and Instagram to help out and the support was overwhelming. New Zealand Immigration has certainly since received many phone calls on behalf of the Saga :)


Chris (Venezuela) is a long time follower and friend. We met in Dubai about 3.5 years ago and he has since moved to Melbourne. We met up for a delicious Greek dinner and some good conversation. He has been to 98 countries.

The New Zealand High Commission in Australia asked me to send an email and I immediately received an autoreply stating I should expect at least a week before receiving a reply. The problem with doing something which has never been done or perhaps only rarely been done is that people don’t know. Many are quick to assume that arriving as a passenger onboard a containership shouldn’t pose a problem. In reality it is sometimes not possible. China will e.g. not allow a passenger to arrive onboard a containership. Back in late 2016 immigration in Beirut, Lebanon, turned me away on two separate occasions while arriving onboard container ships. And on both occasions the ships agent had confirmed it would be no problem. Cruise ships and yachts are currently not permitted to arrive to New Zealand. Fishing boats and cargo vessels are.


Yeah - so Cam and I did a 30 second promo for the SAGA SHOP. You've got to see it :)

There is another possibility. A good friend in Hong Kong reached out and connected me with Goldstar, which is a company operating under ZIM. I have never sailed with ZIM but I gave a talk at their office in Hong Kong and I have good friends working at ZIM. Goldstar also has a service which connects Australia with New Zealand. So, we are working on that. Several friends from Hong Kong have been reaching out with contacts and helping me make connections. Some fairly high-level connections as well. Who knows? Now, the hard choice is, that the ship to Vanuatu leaving in 36 hours, actually continues to Suva, Fiji, where I could transit to New Zealand. It might take a month or more to get there. Meanwhile we may be able to make a direct Australia - New Zealand connection with either Swire, MSC, Goldstar, or even ANL if they come around. What to do? Join the ship to Fiji and hope for the best or stay in Australia and hope for the best?


The Train Gang was formed after the four of us shared a train ride on the US West Coast back in 2014. We became friends and have since stayed in touch. Adam and Art live in the USA. Sara is from Sydney. The photo is from San Francisco.

For me, time is of the essence. I do not want to spend one minute longer in this project than what I have to. I want it over as efficiently as possible. That is not new. Not at all. I have, as mentioned often before, been wanting to go home since 2015. I always thought that if I push just a little harder, work a little bit longer, then it would all work out. And here we are. Having been stuck in Hong Kong for two years, and now in Australia with “only seven countries to go”. Push a little harder? Work a bit longer? If we had full support from shipping companies and government authorities then the Saga could maybe be completed in about seven months. But the Saga is rarely any ones first priority. So, while the Saga enjoys a lot of support it is likely to take more than another twelve months. That is painful knowledge for me. I don’t know how much I have left in me. But I do know that I still have more.


I had the pleasure of reuniting with Sara from The Train Gang :) She has moved from Sydney to Melbourne. How unique to meet up again after seven years. And 12,000km (7.500mi) later.

Yeah – so that’s a bit about the inner workings of the Saga. I often find it hard. The reality is that if I do nothing then nothing happens. I need to stay active to keep the project moving forward. It has been more than eight years of keeping the project moving forward. And then meanwhile, especially here in Melbourne, I have been fortunate to reunite with several good people this past week. It wasn’t easy to part with ultra-wifey last week (it never is) but it freed up time to meet with people. And I had the chance to meet with Ken who’s been following the Saga since 2014!! Ken lives in Melbourne, is retired, has worked as a chemist for many years, loves science fiction, reads around forty books a year, and invited me out for a hike and some fish & chips in Geelong at the coast.


Flinders Peak. The keen eye may be able to spot Melbourne CBD in the far background.


Fish & chips and good conversations. Really good fish & chips I might add.

He picked me up and off we went. We first drove out to You Yangs Regional Park and hiked up to Flinders Peak. From there we had a marvelous view of the surrounding landscape and Melbourne’s CBD could faintly be seen in the horizon. After the hike, Ken presented me with a small white box which contained two cold beers. This is after all Australia! We then continued to Geelong, parked the car and went for a stroll along the Bollard Trail Walk. We stopped at Geelong Boat House for fish & chips and continued talking about anything and everything. Toward the late afternoon Ken offered me a ride to Cam and Justine’s home. That was a 1 hour and 40-minute drive! Such kindness and hospitality. Ken did not have to do that but he wanted to. I have been met with such kindness all across Australia and it certainly did not stop with Ken.


Well Ken, I know you follow the blog and will read this! So I would just once more like to say thank you for a great day exploring some of Victoria's beauty. And thanks for the ride back.

Having left my base in Melbourne CBD and later on in South Yarra, I have now relocated into the loving home of the Brookes family. Cam and Justine have three wonderful children, a dog and some chicken. Last week ultra wifey and I stayed two nights with them and I introduced you all to Cam and my story, which began in 2016. I’ve now been staying with them for a few days and can’t help to envy them a bit. Justine is a wonderful and very attentive mother who keeps the home while Cam works at a nearby school. It is clear to me that they love their children very much. And the kids are great. Ellya is the oldest at five, Lyla is four, and Darcy is just two. A handful when they are at their worst behavior and such a delight when they are at their best – which they most often are. Cam and Justine have said I’m welcome to stay as long as I like. I have told them about the Savagars in Hong Kong who expected me as a guest for four days and ended up hosting me for five months! Cam and Justine just laugh at that.


Smith Street in Melbourne has been voted the coolest street in the world. Okay.


Another great get together!! Carman (Hong Kong) and Phil (Melbourne) now live in Melbourne. We met up several times in Hong Kong. Phil works for Pacsafe, which has sponsored me with masks and a really cool backpack. Carman and Phil treated me Italian food on Lygon Street. SO GOOD!! And then Italian sweets before driving me back to Cam and Justine's place.

It's good to be staying with them and Cam is even fixing up a room for me in his workshop in case I end up staying forever. My days are mostly filled up: logistics, bureaucracy, endless transportation, accommodation, meals, coordinating with the Red Cross globally, feeding social media, daily social media management, interviews, long distance relationships, health, mental health, aging, memories across 196 countries, people, names, places, speaking engagements, partnership management, fundraisers, motivation…yes, the list goes on and on. Yet – with Cam there is also time to fool around and be silly. And when the children have gone to sleep it’s not uncommon that we chill with a glass of red wine and The Voice Australia on TV. A show I knew of but which I had never seen. And I have to say, I think it is quite good. Well, I guess they have had time to develop it as they are 11 seasons in now.


It may be tough times for me. But Cam can usually make me smile :)

I’m hanging in there. The ‘Keep on Keeping On’ should make good sense to most of you by now. You are special. You read the Friday Blog and most people do not. Thanks for reading along. And as a special treat to you I let you in on some good news before I share it elsewhere: I am now officially a Salomon Ambassador! And happy to be one. I love the brand. While some would be aware that I have traveled to 196 countries in their footwear, I have actually been wearing Salomon from the waist down for several years now. So, it’s very cool to be a brand ambassador for them. See you next week.


Someone liked my new Salomon SONIC 4 Confidence running shoes. I get why! :)



I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop


If you enjoyed this blog or find that I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga welcomes funding. Thank you :)


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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - still haven't quit.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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